Big test ahead for NFL’s leading rusher Cook, Vikings
Through three weeks, Cook leads all NFL rushers with 375 yards on the ground, ranks second with four touchdowns and shows no signs of slowing down. However, Cook will face his biggest test this weekend in Chicago against a Bears defense that allows just 65 rushing yards per game to running backs and hasn’t yielded a rushing touchdown all season. If the Vikings want to flip the script on their woes at Soldier Field — they’ve won just two of the last 17 matchups there – Cook will need to have a big game.
Nelson Cruz, Twins designated hitter (⬆️ UP)
Nelson Cruz became the 57th player in Major League Baseball history to join the 400-homer club with his solo blast in the Twins’ 12-8 win on Sunday. At age 39, Cruz is posting some of the best numbers of his 15-year career. If Cruz can finish the season where he’s at now, the .387 on-base percentage and .631 slugging percentage would be career highs. Also, Cruz is just four homers shy of his career-best 44 dingers, set in 2015. Again, at age 39. Incredible.
Miguel Sano, Twins third baseman (⬆️ UP)
Sano followed in the footsteps of his mentor Cruz and had a big week himself, going 7-for-18 with a double, triple three homers and eight RBI. When Sano is at his best, the Twins’ lineup is one of the most dangerous juggernauts in baseball.
Trevor Hildenberger, Twins reliever (⬇️ DOWN)
Kansas City scored three runs on Taylor Rogers to take an 8-5 lead in the ninth inning of Saturday’s game, so manager Rocco Baldelli yanked his closer and called Hildenberger to the mound. It did not go well. Hildenberger faced five hitters and allowed four runs on four hits and a walk. He didn’t record a single out. At the beginning of the season, Hildenberger was projected to take on a big role in the Twins’ bullpen. After one month, that looked to be the case. The 28-year-old didn’t allow a single run over his first 11 outings, but he struggled in May and was optioned to Triple-A Rochester. Hildenberger battled injuries all summer long with the Red Wings, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be involved in any sort of playoff baseball after Saturday’s performance.
Kirk Cousins, Vikings quarterback (⬆️ UP)
Minnesota’s $84 million man had a bounce-back game Sunday against Oakland. The numbers weren’t spectacular by any means — 174 passing yards and a touchdown — but Cousins managed the game and took care of the ball, one week after coughing it up three times in Green Bay. The Vikings have yet to unleash their dynamic receiving duo of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, but they’ll need to rely more on their quarterback this week when the Vikings visit Khalil Mack and Chicago at Soldier Field.
Richard Pitino, Gophers head coach (⬇️ DOWN)
The Gophers’ season-opener is still over one month away, but Pitino’s program had a bit of a rough week. East Ridge High School star Ben Carlson committed to rival Wisconsin last week, one day after Eastview center Steven Crowl announced his plans to play for the Badgers as well. At the start of next year, Wisconsin will have seven players from the Twin Cities metro on its basketball roster: Carlson, Crowl, Brad Davison (Maple Grove), Tyler Wahl (Lakeville North), Nate Reuvers (Lakeville North), Joe Hedstrom (Hopkins) and Walt McGrory (Edina). Yikes.
Marcus Sherels, Vikings return specialist (⬆️ UP)
Guess who’s back? Back again? Sherels is back. Tell a friend. After wide receiver Chad Beebe was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, Minnesota brought back Sherels, its all-time franchise leader in punt returns (231), return yards (2,447) and punt-return touchdowns (5). Vikings fans will be much happier to see Sherels back in purple than the other guy Minnesota signed Tuesday — former first-round pick Laquon Treadwell.